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Day for Towns Marks Exciting Moment for Regeneration in Scotland

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CSPP, 20th May 2015 (Edinburgh) - A full house met at the Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh last 13 May for Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP)’s “Day for Towns”, to learn about developments in the regeneration of the spaces in which over half the country’s population resides.

Through the Towns Tea Party networking event, STP AGM, and launch of Julian Dobson’s book ‘How to Save Our Town Centres’, it was made clear that Scotland is experiencing a promising moment for town centre development. Julian Dobson, who had come to Scotland for launch of his book, gave his observation that “there’s a lot to be excited about [for town regeneration] in Scotland”.

It was also highlighted how STP is playing a leading role in promoting the redevelopment of Scotland’s Towns. STP is a Centre for Scottish Public Policy (CSPP) sister organisation, whose work the CSPP supports. During the brief AGM meeting, STP chair Professor Leigh Sparks described STP’s significant progress in the last three months, with the STP’s new website, incorporating the Understanding Scottish Places and the Town Centre Toolkit, among other projects the organisation is undertaking.

Following from this, Julian Dobson presented his new book, ‘How to Save Our Town Centres’. Dobson is an active promoter of town centre development and is director of the research consultancy Urban Pollinators, among several other roles. A description of his book can be read here.

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(Julian Dobson (left) with STP Chief Officer, Phil Prentice, after the presentation)

In his presentation Dobson used props, rather than powerpoint, to get his message across. His key idea was that town centres should become public spaces accessible to all, in which the community identifies and over which local stakeholders have control. This approach brings together issues of local property ownership, public services, green spaces, heritage, and local businesses vs. external commercial investment. A full description of Dobson’s talk can be read at STP’s Storify report of the day.  

The presentation was followed by a lively Q+A with audience members asking challenging questions about town centre development and Dobson’s views on the reasons for decline in many towns in the past few decades.

After the talk, Julian Dobson said to the CSPP of the day, “It’s been exciting, this is a place where people are engaged with the issues”.

He continued, “Town centre change takes time but there are real possibilities where change can begin to happen. I think a lot of people here have vision, what is exciting about STP is that you have people who are passionate about the places they live in”.

Meanwhile, one audience member, Anita Dhesi of Giffnock Village BID, said to CSPP, “I thought the day as a whole was informative and useful, as it was cross disciplinary and people were able to learn from each other”.

The Day for Towns was followed by a meeting of the Towns Cross Party Group convened by Margaret McCulloch MSP, Shadow Minister for Town Centres, at the Scottish Parliament. At this, Phil Prentice, STP Chief Officer, reported on activity and progress around the themes of the Town Centre Action Plan, among other contributions.

Reflecting on the day, Professor Leigh Sparks wrote, “For me, and yes I recognize I am hopelessly compromised in this as Chair of STP, the day was a resounding success. We are making strong progress and the day as a whole was marked by positivity about the things going on and the places being energized by these activities.

He concluded, “It is the start of something rather than the end, and we do still have a long way to go, but Scotland’s Towns are coming together and changing their fortunes, place by place, in a way we have not seen for quite some time. You can watch this space and/or get involved locally or nationally – places of possibility; spaces of opportunity”.

The CSPP will continue to support STP’s work in the coming period and conduct policy work on Scotland’s towns, as part of our focus on the people, and places, of Scotland.

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Scottish Government’s Land Reform Proposals Questioned after Consultation Results Published

Edinburgh, 20th May 2015 (CSPP) - The Scottish government’s proposals for a Land Reform Bill were questioned yesterday by landowners at a one day conference in Edinburgh.

The event came a few days after the results of the Scottish government’s consultation on land reform showed that most proposals received over 70% backing from the 1,269 submissions.

The proposals include to set up a Land Reform Commission, introduce a land rights and responsibilities policy, improve information on land ownership, remove shooting and deerstalking from business rates exemption, and for more community participation in land management.

The debate on land reform comes amid a renewed focus on land ownership, with 432 landlords owning around half of the country’s privately owned land.

However David Johnstone, the chair of the landowner’s group Scottish Land and Estates, expressed reservations about some of the government’s reform proposals yesterday.

"There is very compelling evidence right across Scotland to demonstrate the public benefit that private landowners deliver. It is there for all to see in tourism, energy, housing, conservation and a host of other sectors, many of which provide no commercial return for landowners”, he said.

"The challenge we face is to break down the stereotype image that is so convenient for those who are critical of the very existence of estates. They do not wish to acknowledge what is happening on the ground and what can be achieved in the future."

Dr Aileen McLeod, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, was invited to address the conference. She was quoted in the Herald as stating: "Our vision for land reform is that Scotland's land delivers the greatest benefit to all the people of Scotland”.  

She continued, “We fully recognise the expertise and role of land owners in managing land. But we want to see greater collaboration between communities and land owners, with agreement over how priorities and benefits should be delivered from land. I believe that the reforms proposed in the land reform bill will benefit all those with a stake in the future of land ownership and land management in Scotland."

As part of its focus on policies relating to the people and places of Scotland, the Centre for Scottish Public Policy (CSPP) continues to observe the debate on land reform and encourage discussion on the issue.

In February the CSPP hosted an evening with author and land reform campaigner Andy Wightman, where audience members with diverse viewpoints debated the issue of land reform in Scotland. The event report can be read here.

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Community Capacity & Resilience Fund: Applications Open

Develop your community based organisation’s ability to tackle welfare reform and poverty with a grant of £1,000–£5,000. Applying to this funding scheme is simple, with an easy application process, a quick decision and the money up front.

The funding scheme

This Scottish Government pilot funding scheme aims to support innovative and creative projects that increase the capacity of frontline third sector organisations to mitigate the impact of welfare reform, promote social inclusion, combat inequality, and increase partnership working.

Funding is available to community based organisations with an annual income for the 2014/15 financial year of £200,000 or less. Projects must be new and take place during the 2015/16 financial year within Scotland.

Fund criteria

Successful projects will achieve one or more of the following criteria:

  • Expand/develop your organisations capacity in order to meet demand relating to welfare reform
  • Develop a pilot project which focuses on tackling the impact of welfare reform and inequality
  • Help bring organisations together in partnership to support people
  • Develop people’s ability to prevent themselves from reaching crisis point

Who can apply

Applications are invited from charities, voluntary organisations, social enterprises, community based organisations, volunteering bodies, co-operatives, housing associations, and credit unions whose annual income in the 2014/15 financial year was £200,000 or less.

Deadline

The deadline for the submission of applications is 5pm on Friday 29 May 2015.

Contact

If you have any questions, please contact Zoë Westwood -  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it / 0131 474 6183

To find out more and apply for the fund, click here.

Source: SCVO

   

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